‘Felony Lane Gang’ active in Johnson County, according to sheriff’s department

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. — The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department is sending out a warning about an organized group of criminals who target parking lots, looking for cars to break into.

The Facebook warning, issued on Saturday, says the “Felony Lane Gang” is active in Johnson and surrounding counties. The department urges residents to avoid leaving purses, wallets and other valuables in cars at any time.

“The group originates in the Fort Lauderdale area,” according to the sheriff’s department. “In most cases, a ‘handler’ or group leader recruits drug addicts, prostitutes or the homeless. They rent cars, and then travel as a group throughout the United States breaking into vehicles.”

“The moniker ‘Felony Lane Gang’ (FLG) was coined by the banking industry,” the post continues. “It is a name they gave a group, or more specifically a type of activity where the suspects drive through the lane farthest from the bank teller while perpetrating fraud. This is largely so the teller will have more difficulty in identifying the suspect. FLG is not a gang, but rather and organized network of criminals throughout the United States.”

Felony Lane Gang members have recently been active in Hamilton County. Fishers police arrested several members associated with the group last June.

The sheriff’s department’s Facebook post does not indicate any specific case that prompted the weekend warning.

Indiana State Police Sergeant John Perrine says the group is well known to law enforcement agencies across the nation. He says members of the group target parking lots at places like gyms, day care facilities, theaters and others where people often leave purses and wallets in their car.

“And they’re sitting in the parking lot, and they’re watching for people to hide those valuables in their car,” Perrine said. “And they’re going to smash the window of that car, take those valuable and whatever the contents they’re in.”

“So if you think you want to get out and put your purse in the trunk, or put your laptop in the trunk or in the back of your SUV, the van, under the seat, if you think you’re going to hide your valuables, assume somebody is watching you hide those valuables,” Perrine said.

After stealing credit cards, debit cards or checks, the suspects take them to the bank in an effort to get cash. And they normally take a victim’s drivers license so they can put together a quick disguise.

“The suspects will use wigs and other adornments to make themselves look more like the victim (as they appear in their driver’s license photograph) while perpetrating these crimes,” according to the sheriff’s department’s Facebook post. “Since 2012, the banking industry reports a loss of 23 million related to the Felony Lane Gang group.”

Jennifer Sherlock, who owns Life Balance Fitness in Greenwood, saw the Facebook warning over the weekend. She says it’s exactly why she warns all of her clients to avoid leaving valuables in their cars when they come in for a workout.

“I tell my clients whenever they come in to make sure that they are bringing in their stuff, purses, book bags, whatever it may be,” Sherlock said. “They put them up against the walls, or there’s lockers in the bathrooms.”

The sheriff’s department Facebook post spells out a number of useful tips to avoid becoming a victim. You can read about those here.